The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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June 16, 2013

Public servants have become taskmasters

I had an “aha” moment when viewing the DVD “Great American Best Sellers: The Books that Shaped America.” The lecture was on Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” pamphlet.

The pamphlet had a profound influence on the representatives of the 13 colonies who met in Philadelphia in 1776.

Paine persuasively argued common sense dictates it was irrational to think a tiny island should rule a continent across the sea. How did Paine, born and raised in England, become radicalized against his homeland? According to Professor Peter Conn, two major influences shaped his conversion: Paine became acquainted with Benjamin Franklin when Franklin spent time in London, and Paine worked with his majesty’s servants in the tax collecting bureau.

He learned these entrenched unelected bureaucrats wielded power over the taxpayers who were paying the government bills.

One of the biggest scandals of our time is in the United States Internal Revenue Service. Each day new revelations come out about the agency targeting conservative groups such as the Tea Party for harassment and delays in their applications for tax exempt status as well as lavish spending on IRS conferences. The same liberals who harangue about the evils of racial and ethnic profiling practice it big time in their roles as prosecutor and judge of the lowly taxpayer, especially conservatives.

Now the Obama administration is asking Congress to authorize money to expand the IRS to administer the “unaffordable” health care act.

What would Paine write if he picked up his pen today? I think he would say our public servants have become our public task masters.

He would say, “So long IRS, we don’t need you anymore!” It’s only common sense.

Herman Harstad


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